By Tim Hunt
Celebrating the return of face-to-face large events in the valleyUploaded: Apr 19, 2022
Two Livermore city officials were happy campers when they spoke to the Pleasanton Men’s Club last week.
Brandon Cardwell, who heads up economic development and innovation for the city, was celebrating that the City Council officially ended the pandemic-driven state of emergency. Both he and airport director Sean Moran were thrilled that they could back to in-person events.
For Cardwell, that meant the OK to resume the life science summit as well as the speaker series. More than 300 people attended the last summit at Veeva Systems in Pleasanton before the lockdown.
For Moran, that meant the airport could hold its open house the first weekend of October. Unfortunately, it will not feature an air show because that takes about a year to plan and the timeline is just too short. Stay tuned for 2023 on that front.
Cardwell also was celebrating the five-year lease that the Daybreak Incubator had just signed on South Front Road. The incubator is focusing on life science companies so the facility will include biosafety level 1 and level 2 labs, facilities that startups cannot afford. In the same building, Buzzkill Labs, which has been growing in the incubator, took 2,000 square feet. Buzzkill is working to scale cannabis tests based on saliva that will make both law enforcement and employers much more capable of scientifically evaluating people suspected of being under the influence. Unlike alcohol, currently it takes a blood test--which is both expensive and time consuming—to determine cannabis impairment. Buzzkill has solved that problem with a rapid test based on a saliva swab.
Cardwell said they are anticipating another company taking 13,000 square feet making it a 22,000-square-foot facility that will be running by the end of June. Their goal is to work with 10 to 15 companies annually and then spin them out to scale. He pointed out that a developer had just bought Brittania Business Center in Hacienda Business Park and was planning to cut it up into smaller spaces ideal for companies early in their growth.
Moran shared some interesting facts including that Livermore is the 9th busiest airport in the state—including the commercial airports—with 184,000 operations. That speaks to its role as a business hub for local companies such as Workday, Safeway, Costco and many others. In my prior life with the Tri-Valley Herald, our owner would fly in from Denver and meet our executives at Livermore. Moran said that during the early weeks o the pandemic Seattle executives would fly in almost daily to Livermore because the store is their Northern California headquarters. His role as airport director did not help him land a package of toilet paper during the shortage.
He made it clear, despite the public confusion over Kaiser Air’s plan for Livermore, that the airport is not licensed or designed for commercial passenger operations. Kaiser Air planned for hangers so it could do maintenance or shift cabin configuration for its Boeing 737s. Moran pointed out that, because of the charter operations Kaiser runs, its commercial jets are quiet enough to fly into San Jose after the noise curfew. Kaiser has not submitted a formal application for the land it has reserved and that ends in July.
He said that one of the key operations at Livermore is flight training where a student can go from a single-engine Cessna to certification to fly a commercial jet. Moran said that airports such as Livermore will expand in that role. He also said that maintenance specialists are important and earn good money with significantly less training than his 8 ½ years of college.
Cardwell’s talk followed his recognition along with two other Tri-Valley executives as an outstanding leader under 40 by the San Francisco Business Times.
He grew up in Livermore and the recognition continued what’s been a great year for him. Cardwell, who has led innovation efforts and incubators for the city of Livermore since the founding of I-gate several years ago, was promoted to lead economic development as well as innovation for the city.
Joining him on the list are Mark Schwager, co-founder and president of Monarch Tractor of Livermore, and Colin Behring, CEO of Behring Companies of San Ramon. Monarch Tractor was recognized last month as one of the Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group’s Gamechanging companies. It’s pioneering its all electric, autonomous tractor in Livemore working with Wente Vineyards.
Behring is a third-generation local developer. His grandfather, Ken Behring, developed Blackhawk, the first major gated community in the San Ramon Valley. Ken Behring later became better known for his philanthropy with major gifts to the Smithsonian Institute and through his Wheelchair Foundation that has delivered well over one million durable wheelchairs across the world. Colin worked for the foundation as assistant to his grandfather for several years while also working in China.
The son of developer Jeff Behring, Colin’s firm is vertically integrated with an investment arm, a development arm and a financing arm. It’s headquartered in San Ramon and has a high-rise project in Oakland.